A TRULY SPOOKY ACTRESS
by Leanna Chamish [June 2, 2002]
A lot of people
have been asking me how it feels to be a sex symbol. I have trouble
answering that. I wonder if I should take the questions seriously,
or if folks are teasing me a bit, using the term "sex symbol" as a joke.
I never set out to be sexy in my acting career. Of course I always
try to look nice, but I wasn't marketing myself as sexy, and I still don't
But it was flattering that
producer Don Dohler and director Joe Ripple thought I was attractive enough
to dress up in a PVC miniskirt and bustier and carry off the role of the
Queen in Stakes.
I certainly like feeling
sexy and desirable! It was great to be able to enjoy that in a role
and have that feeling work to help me be the Queen.
know me are surprised that I can play evil characters; they think it is
so unlike my real personality. They wonder how I find what it takes
in myself to be nasty. Normally I am very quiet and non- confrontational.
I suppose that's why I am good at playing evil and powerful -- I am letting
out lots of repression.
I am getting
fan mail from all over the world and people ask me to sign autographs at
horror/sci-fi conventions. So I think people like my performances.
One joker on a website said I needed to get naked to make the film better,
but that is the closest thing to criticism I have heard.
always been interested in entertainment and broadcasting. My mother
was involved in radio production, and later some TV production. When
I was a child, my Mom used my voice on radio spots. The radio station
seemed like a glamorous place, and I ended up working at radio stations
in disc jockey, board operator, announcer type positions in the Baltimore
I then transitioned into video production. I was a video editor at
Maryland Public TV. Through my connections there I got my first two
serious on-camera opportunities, which encouraged me to focus on acting.
opportunity came through Kim Moir, a cameraman at Maryland Public TV.
He wrote, directed, and produced a movie called "Sinsitivity." As
a lark, I auditioned for the role of Jody DiLeonelli, Executive News Producer.
I was not selected, but I stayed involved as a production crew member and
night the first scenes with "Jody" were to be shot, the actress who was
selected did not show up. So Kim Moir asked me to jump in and perform
the role. That was my first film role -- and it was a substantial
important on-camera opportunity came when the public TV station held auditions
for on-camera hosts for their pledge drives. You know, the "beg-a-thons"
public TV stations do. I was selected, and as a result had a regular
TV gig. Every quarter when fund-raising comes around, I am on TV
asking people to send money. Because it is live TV, it was and is
a fabulous education in ad-libbing and thinking on my feet.
got the public TV hosting job, I realized I had something to offer as on-camera
talent. I invested in headshots and wardrobe and earprompter equipment
and soon became a steadily working commercial actor, corporate/industrial
actor, and voice-over artist in the Baltimore, DC, Virginia and Pennsylvania
point, I was fortunate enough to read the audition notice from Timewarp
Films and get cast in Harvesters.
Another lucky break is my friend, film director Steve Yeager. Steve
made the Sundance award-winning documentary Divine
Trash about John Waters, and directed On
the Block. Steve invited me to take his acting classes, which
gave a tremendous boost to my understanding dramatic feature film acting,
as opposed to corporate/commercial work. Steve taught me technique
and raised my skills and consciousness. I've also acted in Steve's
industrial films, and as an AVID editor, I helped with the video editing
and sound work on his latest feature, "The Connection" -- which was
shown at last year's Maryland Film Festival to good reviews.
Another influential teacher was Mark Redfield, a brilliant actor and film
who recently directed and had the lead in Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde -- a terrific film that's won lots of awards. I
did much of the sound design on that film, spending many long nights at
the Redfield studios laying foley and sound effects. I acted in Mark's
latest film, set to premiere in September, "The Sorcerer of Stonehenge
School", a somewhat Harry Potter-like film. I play the boy's Mom.
My most recent acting studies are with Hillary Sachs, a former Warner Brother's
casting director, now Executive in Charge of Casting at New Dominion pictures.
Hillary has helped me immensely through scene studies and with encouragement
to take my career to another level.
People are saying very positive things about my performances. Joe
Bob Briggs called me "a truly spooky actress." That meant a lot.
A lot of reviews I have read are complimentary about my acting. I
haven't read a bad review yet.
Copyright 2003 by Leanna Chamish
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